Big Unit’s Perfect Game

AJC — Johnson becomes oldest to pitch perfect game [pw-otbblog]

The Braves have experienced plenty of great pitching in years past, but more often than not it was from someone in an Atlanta uniform.

Not Tuesday night, when the struggling Braves ran into lean, mean perfection in the form of Arizona left-hander Randy Johnson.

The perpetually scowling 40-year-old threw the 16th nine-inning perfect game in regular-season history and the second no-hitter of his career, striking out 13 in a resounding performance that lifted the Diamondbacks to a 2-0 victory and drew a standing ovation at Turner Field.

It was the first perfect game ever against the Braves franchise, and the team has 31 strikeouts in its past two games against the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ben Sheets and Johnson.

“I think you can say, without a shadow of a doubt, here in this clubhouse we’ve reached a new all-time low,” said left fielder Chipper Jones, who went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, after going 10-for-24 with six homers previously against Johnson.

“Randy’s always tough; the guy’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But it doesn’t take away the disappointment we have over here.”

The Braves have batted .187 in their past 13 home games, losing seven and scoring one or no runs in five. But Turner Field fans finally had something to cheer Tuesday.

Johnson received thunderous applause when he struck out Nick Green and Eddie Perez for the final two outs, and a crowd of 23,381 gave him a standing ovation and chanted “Ran-dy, Ran-dy” as he came off the field.

“A game like this is very special, because they don’t come along very often,” said Johnson, who threw 87 strikes in 117 pitches, relying almost exclusively on fastballs in the 94-98 mph range and devastating sliders.

This year’s Braves are a far cry from the championship teams of the past dozen years, with most of the stars shipped off to save payroll, several rookie starters, and an unusual spate of injuries. Still, this is quite an impressive accomplishment, especially for a 40-year-old coming off an injury plagued season. I wish I’d seen the game.

David Pinto and Mac Thomason have thoughts about Johnson’s achievement as well. In a separate post, Mac asks, “Has any team ever had one game in which they were struck out 18 times followed by having a perfect game thrown at them?” The odds against that are staggering, to say the least. There have been only five perfect games in National League history and 18-strikeout games are incredibly rare.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.